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Techies most likely to give wide scale adoption of commercial and military drones the green light, reveals recent survey

Techies most likely to give wide scale adoption of commercial and military drones the green light, reveals recent survey

A survey of more than 500 US adults conducted by satellite and cellular connectivity specialists, Ground Control, has revealed stark differences in the level of support for the use of drones across industry ranging from healthcare to agriculture, environmental monitoring, as well as the military.

While those working in technology, or earning more than $100,000 P/A were open to this evolution, others still have reservations.

Carried out in March ‘24, the survey asked participants across a range of industries and demographics four questions on how ‘comfortable’ they felt about drones being used within various industry applications, what their concerns or barriers were, what the benefits were, and finally, on a scale of 1 – 100, to what extent they were in favour of wider adoption of drones generally.

Selected industry types included parcel deliveries, prescription deliveries, remote safety inspections, environmental monitoring, emergency services, and both ‘passive’ and ‘active’ military use.

Those working in the technology sector were considerably more in favour of wider drone application than the average – 74% vs 58%. Breaking this down further, of those working in this sector, 69% were very comfortable with drones being used in commercial settings, and 63% in military settings. This was in stark contrast with healthcare workers, for example, where the split was 46% and 43%.

Alastair MacLeod, CEO for Ground Control, suggests this could have a lot to do with how we perceive the technology. He said: “It is quite understandable why there are differences across the sectors we polled, and those not working in the technology sector could be forgiven for being cautious, especially individuals in healthcare who may still need convincing on the safe delivery of medicines. The techies amongst us are probably more eager to use the advancements that are readily available, we are early adopters by nature.

“While military applications still dominate, the civil and commercial drone market is growing rapidly.  The key for companies planning to deploy drones is to communicate the benefits effectively and at the same time, address any perceived concerns. This is particularly true for delivery-related use cases, which may impact the daily lives of our respondents.”

The drone market is set to soar, with analysis from in December 2023 implying that the drone market will exceed $101.1 Billion by 2032. That’s a projected Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 12.7%. While Asia Pacific has the largest revenue share (39.6%), North America has the fastest CAGR throughout the growth period, with Europe close behind. 

Against this background, Ground Control says it conducted the poll to gain greater knowledge of the barriers and concerns of those directly impacted, in addition to understanding which markets presented as showing the greatest potential. 

Examining the data

Further insight from the survey revealed that in general, more were in favour of commercial drone applications than not, and interestingly, there was slightly higher support for military use over commercial use. Security and privacy, were also highlighted as concerns from the wider public:

  • 55% of respondents expressed support (“comfortable” or “very comfortable”) for commercial drone applications vs 22% not in favour (“uneasy” or “very uneasy”)

  • There was fractionally more support for military drone applications than commercial ones (57% vs 55%)

  • 65% of respondents have concerns about the security of data transmitted via drones, and their perceived vulnerability to hacking / interception

  • 54% of respondents have concerns about privacy: limitations over what information a drone can capture, store and process

  • Fewer than a third of respondents felt that drones used for commercial applications were safer or better for the environment than the processes they might replace

  • People working in technology or with household incomes more than $100,000 p/a were more in favour of wider drone adoption than average (74% and 68% vs. 58%)

A spotlight on demographics

From a demographic perspective, greater support was shown from those earning more than $100,000 p/a compared with those earning under $10,000, while the under 30 age bracket showed less support for military drones and the over 60s were less likely to want to see parcel and prescription deliveries via drones:

  • Where household incomes exceeded $100,000 p/a, there was more support for drone applications both commercial (67%) and military (71%)

  • Where household incomes were lower than $10,000 p/a, there was less support for commercial drone applications (40% vs 55% average) and military (44% vs. 57%)

  • People who worked in technology were more likely to state that they were comfortable with all types of drone applications than average (67% vs. 55%)

  • People who worked in healthcare were less likely to express support for parcel deliveries and prescription medicine deliveries than average (22% vs. 40%)

  • Under 30s were less likely to support active military applications for drones than average (35% vs. 54%)

  • Over 60s were less likely to welcome parcel or medicine deliveries via drone (45% “uneasy” or “very uneasy”; 27% “comfortable” or “very comfortable” vs 36% and 40% respectively).

MacLeod added: “Regulation will continue to be a significant brake on ubiquitous adoption of commercial drone applications, but we anticipate this changing as the market adjusts. There are existing solutions already addressing communication and collision avoidance challenges. From an operator’s standpoint, the projected and empirically proven benefits far exceed any drawbacks.”

A Ground Control report, which examines the results in full, including methodology, a more thorough examination into the splits and demographics and wider statistics around the global drone market for use in commercial and military applications, can be viewed for free here “Consumer Attitudes Towards Commercial and Military Drone Applications in 2024.”


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